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November 25, 2018:  Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - Pastor’s Corner

As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away; his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

The end is here!  As our calendars come to their last pages, nature itself reminds that we are nearing the end of the cycle of life.  Brisk days are darkening, colored leaves are shedding, winter is coming.  Even our recent liturgies reflect this sense of culminating finality.  This is the final Sunday of the liturgical year.  Next week, the first Sunday of Advent, the year begins anew.  On this final Sunday, we celebrate Christ the King of the Universe.  This Solemnity invites us to take a step back and get some perspective.  Kings, presidents, and other political rulers come and go.  Technology, medicine & economics advance and fluctuate erratically.  Nations and peoples fade over the centuries.  Everything ends.  Death is inevitable. 

But Christ has conquered death.  In the Book of Daniel, we read how Christ is crowned King of the Universe: “one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away; his kingship shall not be destroyed.”  As King, Christ rules all time and space and, in the end, it will be Christ himself who reigns.  In fact, in the Creed we profess every week, we affirm that Christ the King will come again “to judge the living and dead.” 

Now the thought of Christ’s 2nd coming of judgment may inspire fear and trembling.  Images of the Day of Judgment are often robustly colored with the hues of fire and brimstone.  But for those who believe, meditating on judgment is not a morbid exercise, but rather, a spiritual practice meant to awaken the virtue of hope.  For injustice is a reality.  We all know: life is not fair.  Because of our human frailties, there is no perfect political or economic system which can restore every injustice.  Yet when Christ comes again, justice conquers.  All wrongs will be righted, all wounds healed, every tear wiped away.  Certainly Christ warns us that we will be accountable for all the time, talent and treasure we’ve been given.  And it’s a sobering thought.  But our great hope is in Christ the King who will rule in the mercy of his justice.

In his encyclical on hope, “Spe Savli,” Pope Benedict says: “I am convinced that the question of justice constitutes the strongest argument in favor of faith in eternal life. The purely individual need for a fulfillment that is denied to us in this life, for an everlasting love that we await, is certainly an important motive for believing that man was made for eternity; but only in connection with the impossibility that the injustice of history should be the final word does the necessity for Christ's return and for new life become fully convincing.”  In other words, the intuitive sense of justice that is part of our human DNA reveals that only Christ the King can save us.   As people of faith, we confidently approach even death and judgment with the hope that our earthly end will be beginning of everlasting joy.

Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.


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